Category Archives: East Lothian

Trust, Squirt and Beauty

My 100th post apparently, not bad for an occasional blog I suppose?

It may sound a bit of a dubious title, but bear with me.

Trust in this instance is not believing in something or someone, but an anti-oderant which I have used for years. I don’t like having smelly armpits when working hard on the bike so this is a product that really works for me. It allows you to sweat, works for several days and has no aluminium or other harmful ingrediants. Only drawback is when it fades there is little warning. But I am sure my fellow cyclists and other humans appreciate the effect. It comes in a tiny, tiny jar which seems ultra expensive till, after use, you realise it lasts for months.

img_3503

Trust – doesn’t seem much but . . . .

Squirt I have written about before. It’s a special dry lube.Our roads are $%£!@(!! round here. They are full of potholes, gravel, mud, puddles, salt in winter etc. etc. So it gives the bike and its components a hard time.

img_3497

The road out of our village 2 days ago

Chains usually last about 3,000 mile if I’m lucky. Cassettes and chainrings get a bit of a battering too. For over a year now I’ve been using special dry lube called Squirt. I’ve found it excellent, even in these conditions. I recently changed my chain and found it had done 5,000 miles and wasn’t even fully stretched. No need to change the cassette or chainring either, so it’s win, win. One of the other things is cleaning – just a quick hose down and all the gubbins is washed away, a quick dry off and a lube and that’s it! Means the cassette, stays, derailleurs clean off easy as well. And finally, there’s the smoothness. The chain just seems to run quieter and feel better. So definitely works for me.

img_3502

Squirt, works well for me.

Now for the best – beauty. This is supposedly in the eye of the beholder, if so, as I’ve said before, there is so much for to gaze on round here that it becomes a feast. The scenery, the animals, plants & birds, the skyscapes, the weather effects and some of the human structures are there for the joy of the beholder. But enough of waxing lyrical, I’ll leave you with the second hand experience of a selection of photos.

img_8235

Amazing clouds at North Berwick

img_8238

East Linton sunset

img_8578

A curlew

p1180191

A patriotic tower, Belhaven

img_3492

Looking over Dunbar harbour – not exactly native species!!

img_8579

Now a house, used to be an airfield control tower

img_8577

Deer in the afternoon

img_8576

img_3500

A wonderful sculpture celebrating the Eyemouth disaster. The figures are tiny.

img_3501img_3498

img_3494

A Gardiner Malloy statue in Dunbar, two men to load, one fishwife to carry!

img_3493

img_3484

A ribbon of light along the Biel Burn, flowing under ‘The Bridge to Nowhere’

img_3469

Sun and shadows at sunset

img_3480

Tree at sunset, up from the village of Spott.

img_3491

Dunbar harbour, with a rare Icelandic gull somewhere there.

Version 2

img_3464

Mist pouring over Traprain Law

img_3451

I didn’t cycle this one up to Lawhead

img_3424

Remains of a bike left in the tree for decades as a memorial, there’s a stone nearby

img_3421img_3420img_3419

img_3379

Cycling past & through brussel sprout leaves

img_3377

Another sunset ride – Aberlady church

img_3376

Coastguard on the lookout, North Berwick

Why I love my Village

I love living here, despite being a newcomer of only 15 or 16 years.

We are near enough from Edinburgh to be able to get in OK if needed, but far enough away to have loads of things happening.

So what does go on then?

First of all, a quick visit to the shops just down the street can result in a 20 minute or so expedition, chatting to folk on the way, going off to the deli or home with someone you meet, helping out a stranger with something and so on.

The Sweetie Shop

The Chemists

The village is expanding as quantities of new houses have been built and more are being planned, but the village has always been growing. What I dislike is the uniformity of the new houses being built. As the village formed it grew up all higgidly piggildy as there were no planning regulations. Folk added a porch on, an extra floor and another as the fancy took them. In many ways the regulations make things safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly but at the same time the designers/ architects can’t get their heads around the creativity for new buildings that will also fit in an older setting with an acceptable profit margin.

Rant over (for now).

The Flying Scotsman whooshes past the former station

Some of the older houses

The High Street

You can tell the new folk to the village, you meet them, say “Hi, how are you doing” and they give you a look of what appears to be mistrust. Hopefully this will change as they grow into life here.

So what makes it so good? Of course – the folk who live and/ or work here. They keep an eye out for each other but will leave each other alone if needed. When something goes wrong a pot of soup will land on your doorstep, or maybe a jar of jam, dangling in its bag from the door handle, or maybe a book.

The community joins in a lot, old and young. We have a very vital Community Hall, well booked for most of the week. We have a Gala which is well attended, the community choir, a community cinema, Christmas market, scouts, guides, brownies etc., horticultural societies who plant boxes around the village and encourage others to do the same.

Filming at the old mill for Outlander

Building a set for the Drama Group

The VR stands for Queen Victoria (Victoria Regina) so wasn’t fitted yesterday

A cargo bike outside the Community Hall
We also have a good variety of shops, a couple of inns, all sorts of trades folks and so on.

Volunteers run a Christmas Market and this year we (the community cinema group Pix in the Stix) put up an open air screen and showed a couple of films and a show of snowy/ icy photos from her to the Alps and Himalayas. Luckily the weather goddesses were kind. It was above freezing and hardly a breath of wind.

The community choir sings at the Christmas Market

Our Community Cinema puts on some films and a snowy/ icy photo show for the market

The last thing to mention here are the surroundings. We have a river (the Tyne) running through the village, the beach and sea just 10 minutes away by bike, woods, hills and moors, castles, old churches and historic sites and buildings all within easy reach, the joys (mostly) of the weather always changing and a fascinating geology.

All this helps foster a good outdoor community, be it the football team, tennis players or the walkers, runners, canoeists, sailors, skiers and cyclists (like myself).

Phantassie Doocot (a Doo is Scottish for a pigeon)

One of the old gravestones in the graveyard

Giant leeks and onions at the show

A local heron at the Linn (the waterfall)

So if you asked me where I would choose to live if I could stay anywhere – the answer, as you might guess is – here!!

Funny old Spring and bum cream

It’s been a pretty weird Spring this year, hot, cold, windy, still, rain, sun, snow. As I tap the rain is pelting down outside, but the sun is due late on today.

P1150983

Hairy gorse out for Spring

P1150813

Tulips in the sun

I was cycling up on the hills two days ago with snow around and the week before I was back in shorts a few times. But then variety is the spice of life?

IMG_1059

A 50 miler 2 weeks ago

IMG_1085

Johnny trying not to run me over (me lying on the road!)

P1250035

Climbing up Redstone Rigg 2 days ago

My ribs have mostly healed but a couple of weeks ago I forgot I was recovering. I’m involved with the local community cinema (Pix in the Stix). We were putting on ‘Bill’ for the kids film, a comedy about William Shakespeare – great if you haven’t seen it. The adult film was ‘The Lady in the Van’, another terrific one. While setting up for the shows I lifted over the speakers, fairly light and easy. Then I hoiked up the amp in its flight case. Big mistake, I felt something in my ribcage tug and knew I should not have done that! So I was set back a wee bit, but still out on the bike. It was the 25th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, so we decided to put on the film of Roger Waters, from the band, reflecting on this. He visited his grandfather’s grave from the first world war, and his father’s grave from the second world war, as well as giving a huge performance of The Wall. We also had a band playing, a younger member of Pix played some background music and I sang some old blues numbers. A brilliant night indeed, held in the old village hall at Tyninghame, which at one time was a bakehouse.

P1150872

Sound checks

P1150844

Setting up Pix in the Stix

P1150907

The band before ‘The Wall’

P1150857

Special cakes for the Pink Floyd night

P1150845

Aghghghghgh

I’ve had some good rides, as usual. I’m lucky as I relish variety in conditions. I’ve been up and down our local hills quite a bit. As regular followers know it’s steep round here, so I’ve needed to take it easyish as standing up peddling has caused discomfort or pain, till the last week or so. I look forward to going out with the groups I ride with, keeps me going pushing with folk a few decades younger than me. And there is good banter along the way or at the cafe too.

One of my favourite cafés is re-opening soon under new management. It’s going to be called The Lanterne Rouge, so it’s obviously going to give a huge welcome to cyclists. For those who are not into racing, the Lanterne Rouge was awarded to the rider who finishes the Tour de France in last place.

IMG_3910

Un Lanterne Rouge

Now the final bit, bum cream. As with all cycling things, eating, drinking, equipment, training etc. there are masses of opinions on what we should be doing and how, where, why etc. One of these is the more delicate parts of our anatomy which connect with the saddle. I am fairly scrupulous about spreading ‘chamois cream’ on my susceptable parts before a longer ride, but recently I forgot (or couldn’t be bothered – for want of a more appropriate word). One of these was an 85 mile jaunt to test bikes. Surprisingly I find few bad effects, so I’ve been experimenting a bit and it sometimes it makes a difference, others not. So I’ve reached totally no conclusion, not for the first time either.

So as ever a few extra pics for your delectation or otherwise:

IMG_3912

Up by the monument looking north to N Berwick Law and the Paps o’ Fife

IMG_3908

Subtle overshoes?

P1150827

Deep Spring ploughing locally

P1250027

Spring snow in the hills

P1250032

The climb ahead up to the tops, a mere 17%er

P1250041

At the top of ‘The Rigg’, warmer than it looks!

P1250038

Looking back over the Firth of Forth and the hills up north

P1250037

The Bass Rock below with the northern mountains behind

6 days, lost and 9 miles

Last week was my birthday, no big deal by now. Last year I decided I would try to ride my birthday miles each year as soon after the event as I could. This can only get harder though perhaps at some point kilometres may enter the fray. It was a 67 mile target last year, but somehow ended up at 95, so that was a most auspicious start to the whole thing. So last Sunday I set off for the requisite 68 miles. But, alas, twas not to be. Fate had intervened. Prior to this a car had hit me with its wing mirror at a junction. Ooh, and ouch and oh dear – I reckon I’d cracked a rib, as well as putting curves in the back wheel that just shouldn’t be there. Got to 40 miles and realised it just wasn’t going to be on.The ribs were paining me, so discretion became the better part of valour. I wasn’t far from home – 2 to 3 miles later I relaxed in a hot bath. A wee bit disappointed but hopefully there’s tomorrow?

So gradually built up again over the week. Still sore up steeps, but improving, hurrah for endomorphins. By the Saturday it was 6 days later. Terry was up for joining me and the chase was on. Cloudy, but sunshine due later, little wind, route on the Garmin, spirit willing, the few miles up to Terry’s and we were off.

The first 20 miles were fine, steadily climbing up to 550 ft+, with few steep hills to kick in the hurt. Then it all went wrong. I was the navigator, Terry was in front, took a turn right and shot off downhill, whoops that was all wrong.

BDay Ride with Terry

Come back Terry

A mile or so later I caught up & decided to carry on & let the Garmin correct us. Well up this long, steep straight hill we went for about 2 miles, ooch again. Then we started our journey to all over the place. We seemed to be going round about in what seemed like squares, circles, ovals or something. At least we passed some pretty places, with castles and all (not unusual round here).

BDay Ride with Terry

Chrichton Castle

We also passed folk belting around on aero bikes with numbers felt tipped on their arms, learnt later it was a triathlon as we had thought at the time.

Eventually I realised what was wrong (and I pride myself on good navigation). I had set the Garmin to recalculate – big mistake, it seemed to be pulling me home rather than back to my required course, ah well.

So having sorted it all out and done all these strange circuits to nowhere, we sort of caught up with our route by an unintended sprint (though that term is relative) along the busy A7 main road – no’ nice at all, get me off here! So through Heriot and down the old road, and up and down and up an down and  . . . . . At least we knew where we were, though I guessed we had carved a chunk off our intended route with our diversions. Further down the back road, we passed the spot where we were supposed to cross to head back. Nothing, no go, no track, no way, oh deary me!!! The map lied – they had resurrected the Borders Railway and there was no way across.

So we trundled on downhill, back on to the dreaded A7 and back up – another 4 miles we hadn’t meant to do to get opposite where the map told fibs to us.

Now came the hills.

BDay Ride with Terry

A bonny glen

BDay Ride with Terry

Bumpy roads again

BDay Ride with Terry

Spot the white cow sculpture, some house too!

BDay Ride with Terry

An old fortified house, nicely restored

BDay Ride with Terry

Approaching Soutra

By more ups and downs we ascended to over 1,200 feet to the remains of the renowned (in its day) medieval hospital at Sutra Aisle. Stopped for a quick look around then a crazy descent, yippee, and a stop at the cafe for coffees and lunch.

BDay Ride with Terry

Sutra Aisle, with sunshine weakly beckoning

BDay Ride with Terry

Sutra Aisle and a random motorcyclist

There was a lot of downhill back, so gorgeous cruising in the sun, mostly back on home turf, past the caterpillar hedges climbing over the landscape and eventually parting with Terry a few miles from my humble abode. Then – made it! Yippee.

But had I managed the magic mileage? Loaded up the ride stats.

YES!! 77.1 miles, 5:39:49 moving time and 4,869 feet of ascent. So 6 days late but 9 miles over, we must have done some wandering on our diversions. Much to my amazement I’d even managed a few PRs on some of the ascent. So altogether it was a most satisfactory result, followed by a hot bath soak.

Now, next year – where shall I plan to get lost next year?

FullSizeRender

The wobbly, wobbly route

FullSizeRender 2FullSizeRender 3FullSizeRender 4

Failure will become a Success

Saturday was fun. The cafe at Gifford closed a few months ago, but is starting to be renovated by a new owner. It was a real cyclist hub too. It will be called the Lanterne Rouge, which might be quite appropriate for me at times (for those who don’t know the association “The Lanterne Rouge“). It won’t open till May as they are totally redoing the place, but as the Gifford road race was on they were giving out coffee & cakes and raising money for the local hospice. The helpers and owner were lovely and the cakes superb. Hey had made a special energy bar/ flap jack which was wonderful. I had thought the racing was over, but when I came up the hill to Gifford, the motorbike cavalcade came down the road towards me, lights blazing, then the leaders shot past, followed by the 2nd group and then the peloton. They did a circuit and came past the cafe. I managed to munch and drink and headed off to the finish  to see then come blasting over the line – great.

IMG_0958

The marshals waiting for the next lap

IMG_0959

The breakaway comes through

IMG_0963

Back together the leader crosses the line

IMG_0965

Tired!!

IMG_0964

The pack comes through

Last year I decided to ride my birthday at least. I was 67 so planned a 67 mile route. One of my cycling buddies chummed me and we had a wonderful, but chilly day biking out to Stirling, getting the train back to Edinburgh and then cycling back home. The 67 miles turned, somehow magically, into 95. So a birthday ride+. Yesterday was another year on. Fortunately I don’t set the birthday ride to be on my birthday as the March weather here is fickle, to say the least.

This year my cracked rib has intervened as well. I’m back on the bike and slowly ramping up the miles again, though sore a wee bit, as it’s only a couple of weeks since the accident (“Only when I laugh” as the old joke goes).

So I cycled up to join the gang for the Sunday ride, ready to push the mileage if I was up to it. The first 35 miles were super, I was in shorts for the 2nd day running (and this is March in Scotland), just 2 layers on top, felt good & had excellent company. I took it relatively easy up the hills so as not to do too much energetic breathing and stopped in one of the towns to meet some folk, one of whom had an amazing looking tri bike. It was much heavier than I thought it would be too.

IMG_0969

Then down from the foothills and a fast cruise along the coast. Just Craig & I now, barrelling along together.

Then I realised that my 68 possible target wasn’t on that day. My chest was grumbling gently at me – there’s always another day sire!

So Craig pottered off, right on his target for the day, while I peeled off, heading for home. But 40+ miles was OK and proved I’m on the way to my birthday ride in the next couple of weeks.

My evening celebration was an a visit to Dunbar to see a lovely Science Festival Light Show projected on to the Town House, with the statue of John Muir (who was born here) being lit up as well, followed by an Italian meal – loverly.

DunbarScience00003DunbarScience00007

John Muir as a boy

DunbarScience00011DunbarScience00012DunbarScience00014

(2 days later) A few rides later into the hills & I’m ready for tomorrow. Forecast is good, no winds and not desperately cold. Wish me luck.

IMG_0970

A suspicious looking ‘Heavy’ horse

IMG_0972

It’s mucky in them thare hills!!

Bike or Ski?

There’s snow on our local hills, so the dilemma arises. I often manage a wee ski trip or two when conditions are right.

I had already managed one very small one this year so yesterday was a bonus. Snow, sunshine, no wind and the hills had looked good on the bike ride the day before. There was no real choice! I had some of the afternoon free so just had to go. And it was glorious. The snow lower down was perfect, though it turned a bit softer higher up.

A quick drive up (it’s only 10 – 15 minutes away), skins on the skis, heel lifts fitted, hop over the gate, say hello to the sheep and away. Got into a loverly rythym going up with occasional brief pauses for photos. Met the secondd gate and managed to hop(?) over it fairly disgracefully, then the undulating climb upwards to the top of the hill. The views on the way up and at the top were wonderful. Above me was Lammerlaw, but not enough time and the snow was getting too soft for the return journey. So, off with the skins and away. Gliding along the ridge and then the speedier descents. The wax on the skis worked well gripping on the flatter sections and gliding nicely on the faster downhill sections.

Lower down the snow was perfect for telemarking and the turns felt good. Though I was back down I was high as a kite. Glorious!!!!!!

For those who don’t know the terminology, skins are attached to the bottom of the skis with releasable glue. The nap of the fabric (it used to be seal skins in the old days) faces backwards and enables the skier to climb up hills. The heel lifts up the heel of the ski boot, this makes the boot level & puts less strain on your leg muscles. The wax, applied to the bottom of the ski, grips when you put pressure on it to go forward, but glides when there’s no pressure. You need different grades of wax for different temperatures – a real black art! A telemark turn is one where one leg slides backwards behind the other and the two skis form effectively one long one.You can only do this on freewheel skis. I also use telescopic poles, adjusted to be longer for pushing uphill but shorter for the downhills to help with the turns.So there you go, a wonderful pursuit when conditions are right.

There’s worse to come though, a cheesy video is in production!

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-04

Almost ready

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-05

Gorgeous snow conditions lower down

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-06

Have to wait for the descent

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-12

More fence icicles

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-11

Strange icicles growing vertically

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-10

Looking east

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-08

Hare and fox tracks

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-18

Over to Fife and the Firth of Forth

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-16

A gulley to the east over the valley

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-15

Another gully to the east

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-07

Follow the hare in reverse

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-09

Gate number 3

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-13

Sun, sun, sun

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-02

Lammerlaw ahead, waits for another day

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-17

As far as I go, skins off & ready to go

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-19

Haddington, down low

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-14

Time to head down

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-20

Starting the ski back

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-21

These specs were clear when I left the car

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-30

Oh so elegant!!

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-23

Ski tips lead the way down

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-01

Trapain Law and the Bass Rock

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-28

Quad bike & ski tracks up

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-22

Gate number 2

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-25

turns in the snow

 

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-26

The car waits at the bottom

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-24

Ski track up and down, put delight

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-27quad bike, ski and sheep tracks

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-03

The sheep & hill at the finish

Lammermuirs Track

The Strava trace of the ski track up & down

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-29

The road home

Wet, dry, wet, wind, wind, wind, Portugal and still learning

What a turbulent December it has been. The weather has been all over the place. Cycling in negative temperatures, then next day over 12°C. Cruising along on dry roads to be followed by splashing carefully avoiding potholes hidden in flooded byways. All this to be repeated from one day to the next. Makes for interesting bicycling.

Then there’s the wind, today is howling from the south,  two days ago from the south east, but mostly from the south west with occasional notherly blasts just to round things off. Ah the great Scottish climate!December0

The snow arrived locally at the end of November, disappeared for a wee bit then dusted the hills again for a while before the temperatures rose again. On the occasional day it has cleared enough to see the Southern Cairngorms way up north, they seem to have more than a dusting of the white stuff, but the thought of being out in the mountains on skis in this weather is frightening, or seriously not to be contemplated at least. And the snow is forecast for here again tomorrow – ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’!

But, in spite, or maybe because of it all I have managed to rack up the miles, dodging the wild winds behind hedges or hills, choosing the weather window carefully, looking out the lights for a bit of night cycling, meeting up with other daft minded biking companions and other such strategies.

And it’s been so enjoyable, that amazing clarity when the rain clears, the sense of adventure in familiar territory, that joint feeling of accomplishment shared with others, and the craic over coffee & scones halfway through a ride.

Yippee, bring it on!

Thomas Metcalfe found my blog recently, so welcome to him and all the rest of you. Thomas runs a cycling business in the Algarve in Portugal and was really good to me in the Spring. My sister has a significant birthday. We’ll be meeting up there again in the early summer, so I better get my bike booking firmed up. What a transformation it will be from the Scottish winter. I’m not too good with the heat, but loved the smells and sights in the back roads of the Algarve -looking forward to renewing my acquaintance, though not so much the busier main roads. Time to look out some decent maps for the trip as well:

https://fossilcycle.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/portugal-and-hills-hills-hills/

https://www.swiftmomentumsports.com

The other news is that I’m just about finished with my video of the local mini hills part 2, with some odd music, mucky roads and dodgy fords so maybe I’ll get it out before the year end.

You’re never too old to learn? Well I certainly hope so! Over the year I’ve been doing some online short (6 week) courses with Future Learn – https://www.futurelearn.com. I have found the courses to be superb and they are free. So far I’ve taken the following courses:

Introduction to Forensic Science, Web Science: How the web is changing, Kitchen Chemistry (too basic for me though), Explore Filmmaking, Digital Storytelling. I’ve signed up for two more – Explore Animation and Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers.

The courses are designed by Universities or the National Film & Television School, the standards are very high and the online discussions with other students excellent, with good advice or positive critical response. The range of courses is very broad, so have a look you might find a new interest: https://www.futurelearn.com

So anyway, enough rambling – have a good New Year, and a few recent local photos to finish.

December3December1December4December2December5